And then there were six.
Connecticut State Senator Toni Harp announced Monday that she will be running for mayor of New Haven. This marks a reversal from her previous statements that she was not running. Long-thought to be the most likely candidate to beat out or succeed longtime Mayor John DeStefano Jr., Harp is poised to shake up a race that has already emerged as the most competitive in decades.
“I honestly think that I have the ability to bring the city together, to make it a more positive place, where people feel better about being residents of New Haven,” Harp told the New Haven Independent.
Should she win, Harp would be the first female mayor in New Haven’s history. At 65 years old, she has represented parts of New Haven and West Haven in Hartford since 1993. Harp co-chairs the state legislature’s Appropriations Committee as well as the Mental Health Working Group under the state’s Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.
Harp’s supporters have plans to hold an organizational meeting for her campaign Monday, the Independent reported. This will coincide with the campaign kickoff event of former New Haven Economic Development Administrator Henry Fernandez LAW ’94. The four other men running are Connecticut Technology Council CEO and President and former president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Matthew Nemerson, Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10, Connecticut State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield and plumber Sundiata Keitazulu.
Notably, Harp said Monday that she will not be opting into the Democracy Fund, the city’s public campaign financing system that limits individual contributions in exchange for matching funds and a public grant. The issue has already arisen as a sticking point among the candidates, as Elicker, Holder-Winfield and Keitazulu have signed onto the Fund and emphasized the ethical significance of public money. Harp will join Fernandez and Nemerson in abstaining from the Fund, citing her late entry into the race as a justification for her reliance on private fundraising.
Before her announcement, Harp said she was planning on supporting Holder-Winfield.